Bathurst 1000 royalty confirmed for New Zealand return
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Preparations for January’s Legends of Bathurst event at Hampton Downs Motorsport Park are in full swing.
The event made its debut earlier this year, paying tribute to some of the great names and cars (past and present) from the folklore of Australia’s ‘Greatest Race’. And announcements are already starting to be rolled out — the first of which being Dick Johnson and Stone Brothers Racing’s Ross and Jimmy Stone.
Johnson’s accolades almost go without saying. He is Australia’s most successful team owner/driver; winning five ATCC titles and three Bathurst 1000 titles himself, with Dick Johnson Racing earning many more victories through drivers like John Bowe, James Courtney, and most recently Scott McLaughlin.
Dick Johnson leading the Stone Brothers Racing Ford Falcon of Jason Bright and Steve Richards at the 1998 FAI Bathurst 1000. Bright and Richards eventually won. Photo / Getty Images
Ross and Jimmy Stone meanwhile built careers as a team manager and engineer — ironically working at DJR in the early 90s —before fostering a successful team of their own. By 2005 they had won three V8 Supercars championships and a Bathurst 1000 crown.
The legacy of Stone Brothers Racing can also be measured in the number of drivers that they helped mentor, which included the likes of Jason Bright, Marcos Ambrose, and Shane van Gisbergen.
“Some friends of mine, including Jim Richards, came over to Hampton Downs for the first Legends of Bathurst event and they talked about what a good event it was,” said Ross Stone.
“People around the world have an interest in Bathurst because it’s such a great track and has produced so many classic races over the years.
“I first went to Bathurst in the early 1970’s. I was an apprentice mechanic and I didn't have a lot of money, but the guy I was working for shouted me a trip."
“Jim Richards and Rod Coppins finished third that year and I remember promising myself I’d get back there some day because there was something magical about the place. To go back and win the race as team manager for Dick Johnson in 1994 and win it with our own team in 1998 was very special.”
It’s hoped that the presence of Johnson and the Stone Brothers will be bolstered by some of their most iconic race cars from past races, but these are still to be confirmed in the coming weeks along with other Bathurst icons.
In the meantime, a slew of other Bathurst and 90s touring cars are set to make the trip to the Waikato circuit. These include Paul Radisich’s former Touring Car World Cup–winning Ford Mondeo super touring car and Jim Richards’ John Player Special Group C BMW 635i — both of which will be driven by Radisich and Richards respectively. It’s also expected that John Bowe will once again be reunited with his 1986 Group A Volvo 240 GT.
The support category line-up includes the Bathurst all-comers class, ENZED Central Muscle Cars, Pre 65s, Formula Ford, and the Historic Touring Car Association. The latter will come with a 23-car grid filled with ex-BTCC super touring cars, Group A cars, and more.
The Legends of Bathurst event takes place across January 12–13. Stay tuned to Driven.co.nz for more event updates.